Richard Gilder, RIP

Gilder

Here is a tribute from the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History:

The Gilder Lehrman Institute is proud to publish this short biography of our Co-Founder Richard Gilder, written by Charles Sahm, a journalist and member of our President’s Council. Originally it was intended to present Dick’s extraordinary life story in a form that would reach the thousands of teachers and students who benefit from the resources and programs he has made possible through Gilder Lehrman and other institutions. Dick lived long enough to read the final draft, but his death on May 12, 2020, prevented him seeing it published or witnessing the response from readers.

What I hope readers will take away is a sense of Dick Gilder’s vision, boldness, and generosity; his love of ideas and of America’s ideals; his honesty and courage in facing history as it was; his belief in the potential of our country to continue to pursue its ideals and fulfill its promise. The Gilder Lehrman Institute began in 1994 when Dick was inspired by a lecture on transatlantic slavery by Professor David Brion Davis of Yale to sponsor a summer seminar for teachers on the subject. 

Joining with his longtime friend and partner Lewis Lehrman, the two launched a venture that would grow over the next 25 years to become the leading not-for-profit devoted to K–12 history education in the country. When I became president at the end of 1996, the Institute had three employees and two programs. Today it has the 72,000-item Gilder Lehrman Collection of American documents, a network of 26,000 Affiliate Schools across all 50 states, a website serving more than two million unique visitors annually, and programming that reaches tens of thousands of teachers and through them, more than three million students every year.

Dick was not just a generous financial supporter, he was the driving force behind it all. He was passionate about our mission. In the late 1990s, he would leave his office every Wednesday to teach a course on American history at a public high school in Queens. He took a keen interest in our book prizes, our History Teacher of the Year Award, our exhibitions, our teacher seminars, our partnership with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton—every one of our events and programs, our Affiliate Schools, and K–12 students.

Read the rest here.